Morale wins are not enough for USC, but it may be the only thing left at the end of this season. The Trojans played well in the first half at South Bend, but 178 yards of attack were wasted with a punt, a redzone pick, short field goal and zero game hours.
A missed field goal ruined possession in the second half, and USC lost 24-3 before scoring again. As a result, the Trojans won the battle 428-383 yards per game from 6.1 to 5.4, but lost by double digits for the fourth time this season.
Now the focus is shifting to the most winning game remaining on the schedule and there really should be a streak of enjoyable moments against Arizona.
Arizona Wildcats at USC Trojans (-21, 56.5)
Arizona has lost seven times, including a home defeat to Northern Arizona in Week 2. The Wildcats scored just 51 points in four Pac-12 games and only 100 points in a season. Arizona advanced to Week 9 and finished 119th in yards per game, beating teams such as Massachusetts, Vanderbilt, Connecticut and the Navy.
Overall, the Wildcats defended themselves well without the help of the attackers. The Arizona D advanced to week 82 on legal yards per game with 5.74, although it’s worth noting that Pac-12 opponents have added almost 6.2 yards per game. With Arizona ranked last in the country with a minus 11 turnover margin, the defense got in a tight spot and did their job as well as possible.
On the other hand, a few more findings would have helped as Arizona regained two fumbles and provided just three interceptions. USC has had trouble taking care of football at times, but that could change in this game and lead to the escape of the Trojans.
The Trojans beat the three inferior teams they played with, with major away wins in Washington and Colorado and a 23-point home win over San Jose. This game should fit more into this category.
One random indicator for this is that Arizona actually ranks 13th in passing yards per game, but that’s because the Wildcats only faced 148 passing attempts – the lowest in the country. Opponents averaged 8.3 yards on a pass attempt, but against Arizona, the teams didn’t get much in the air.
USC follows with the powerful Kedon Slovis-Drake London combination. FBS teams have a 12: 1 TD to INT ratio against the Wildcats this season. This is a game in which the USC needs to win convincingly and be able to do it.
Here’s another interesting statistic. Teams that leave the game in Notre Dame have 0-5 against the scatter and just 1-4 right this season. Purdue beat Illinois by four favorites with 10 points. Interestingly, all of these commands are deeply flawed or inconsistent, as is the USC, as Florida, Toledo, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Virginia Institute of Technology have major problems.
Regardless, I believe that USC will break this trend and win this game by enough margin to cover it.
Choice: Trojans USC -21
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